What to Expect From a Pro Makeup Appointment, According to the Experts

Don't let Instagram fool you: some (aka most) of us haven't mastered the art of full glam yet. Swiping, blending, and contouring to perfection is an art form that can take years to master. If you're not quite there — or just don't need those skills for your everyday beauty looks — no worries. That's what the pros are for.

Much like a refreshing facial or zen massage, booking a professional makeup appointment can be an amazing way to treat yourself for special occasions. (Or just because you feel like it.) With prom and wedding seasons officially on the horizon, now is a good time to start considering your options.

Whether it'll be your first time sitting in an artist's chair or you have a few appointments under your belt, there's no such thing as being too prepared. In fact, knowing exactly what to expect can help the process run smoothly and create the best possible relationship (and result, of course) between you and your MUA.

To help break it all down, we tapped Lauren Serra, a senior makeup artist at Blushington. Working at a popular destination for prom and special-event makeup, plus a variety of other beauty services, she's seen and experienced it all. Keep reading as she shares what to expect during your appointment, including prep, tipping etiquette, and more.

How Should You Prepare For Your Makeup Appointment?

It might seem obvious, but the very first step in the process is booking the appointment itself. Although walk-ins are possible on a whim, scheduling in advance will give you maximum prep time on all fronts. "The earlier you can book the better," Serra told POPSUGAR. "Especially for a special occasion, so that you can request the time and artist that you want."

For extra-important events — perhaps your wedding or a big milestone birthday bash — she even suggested booking a trial ahead of time. That way you can pre-approve the look so you have one less thing to worry about the day of.

When your appointment rolls around, all that's left to do is bring your bare face and a camera roll equipped with inspiration. "The best thing to do is continue your regular skincare routine, exfoliate the night before or day of, and make sure you're moisturized," Serra said. "If you have any allergies or sensitivities, you can bring your own products. Otherwise the pros will have everything you need." As for photos, she recommends bringing around five to guide the look. But what's even more helpful? Past examples of your face with makeup that you liked. This way, the artist can create a truly custom look that brings out your best features.

What Happens During the Appointment?

So, how does a pro makeup appointment work? In most cases, it'll involve a mix of a consultation, skin prep, and full-face makeup application, which usually takes 45 minutes to an hour. And at Blushington, there's even Champagne (or coffee, tea, and water for high-school-aged prom-goers and those who don't drink) and phone chargers at the ready.

After meeting your artist, you'll discuss your skincare routine, plus any potential allergies or complexion concerns. Then you'll go over your makeup preferences: "If you love eyeliner or don't, the overall look you want to achieve, what you're wearing, and your hairstyle," Serra said. Once you decide on a look, the artist will clip your hair back, sanitize their hands (this is key!), and perform a brief skincare routine, taking special care to moisturize your skin and lips.

For looks involving heavy eye makeup, Serra noted that artists may begin with the eyes. This makes for easier fallout cleanup since it won't interfere with foundation and the like. Otherwise the basic order is: sunscreen and face primer, foundation, eye primer, eye shadow, liner, mascara, false lashes (if applicable), and brows. Once the eyes are complete, the artist will color correct and conceal, contour and bronze, and add blush, highlighter, and a lip. Setting spray is the final touch. At the end of the appointment, artists will provide a recap, including the products used and any other recommendations.

How Much Does It Cost to Have Your Makeup Done Professionally?

Costs may vary by location — where you live and if you're at a salon, makeup counter, or in your home — plus artist and desired services. At Blushington, full face makeup starts at $60. Faux lashes are an extra $25. At some makeup counters like Ulta or Sephora, a quick makeup touch-up or product try-on is free. In other cases, you may have the option to purchase a package, take advantage of a special promo, or put the money you're spending back into products to take home. (The latter is often the case at department store beauty counters.)

As for tipping? "It's always appreciated," Serra said. "We recommend 20 percent."

How Can You Help the Appointment Run Smoothly?

As the majority of clients and artists would agree, smooth sailing is always the goal. On that front, Serra shared a handful of tips that can help. For safety purposes, she said the most important thing is a full disclosure of food or skin allergies. She also recommended that during the appointment you avoid phone calls, eating, and leaning forward — all things that can compromise the artist's ability to do their job effectively. Changing looks mid-appointment can also disrupt the process and potentially extend the length of the appointment. "The best way to enjoy the appointment is to sit back, relax, and observe what the artist is doing, because it's a great opportunity to learn new tips and tricks," she said.

Serra also stressed the importance of being on time during especially busy times — prom season, we're looking at you. Artists have back-to-back appointments on these days and need the built-in time to sanitize brushes, wash hands, and clean the station. "For best results, you don't want your appointment to be rushed."

Are There Any Misconceptions About Having Your Makeup Done by a Pro?

From intimidating artists to high prices to the end result, Serra said there are several misconceptions about getting your makeup done professionally. "A common misconception is that you will leave the chair looking like a different person," she told POPSUGAR. But that isn't the case; ultimately, it's up to you to decide what the end result will be. "Blushington works with everyone to customize a look and be the best versions of themselves — from the most natural makeup to the more dramatic." On the more natural front, professional makeup isn't just for superformal events. Meetings, lunches, and nights out can also warrant help from the experts.

Serra also addressed the idea that salons and artists can be intimidating or won't listen to clients' preferences. "Our lounges are welcoming and are an extension of your own living room," she said. "Our artists and desk staff are friendly and want to make you feel comfortable. And our artists will listen to your needs and concerns to customize your look and experience."